By Janis Fontaine
For someone who loves to read, access to books is like having access to air or food or water.
Hope Sargeant, a junior at American Heritage School of Boca Delray, has loved to read since she was 4.
“Reading is important to me because opening a book opens possibilities,” the 16-year-old said. “By reading you can travel to outer space and around the world. I love to read and I want to share my love of reading with others.”
She’s so committed to a world of books, she volunteered the last two summers in the children’s section at Delray Beach Public Library.
And now she’ll be part of “Hope for the Future,” a program to collect new books to give to at-risk kids before the winter school holiday. Together, she and Ilene Glickman, who runs the library’s children’s section, came up with a plan to place drop boxes around town to collect the books.
The book drive will run Nov. 27 through Dec. 22.
The idea is patterned after the library’s summer outreach programs, which take books to schools and community organizations to promote summer reading.
“A lot of children don’t have access to the library,” Glickman says.
Experts say low-income families tend to live farther away from public libraries and kids lack transportation to get there, so Hope worked alongside Glickman to bring books to the kids.
“Hope always has a welcoming smile and she speaks with a soft voice, and that really helps her connect with the kids,” Glickman said. “She’s upbeat and exudes enthusiasm and she really likes enriching the lives of kids. Working with Hope is a win-win-win.”
The library gives away thousands of books in its summer outreach programs.
“When Hope saw the excitement on the kids’ faces when they got their books, she was very moved by their need,” Glickman said. She wanted to do more.
“I noticed that many of the children who participated in the summer and outreach programs were thrilled when they received a new book at the end of each session,” Hope said. “I thought it would be nice for these children to receive a new book at the holidays to read over the Christmas break. I also thought it would keep the kids on track with their reading levels.”
Hope will collect the books each week and monitor the program to ensure books get to her target audience: at-risk children and teens in Delray Beach.
Only new books are being collected, and if you need a suggestion for a good book, Hope suggests a few of her favorite books as a child: Knuffle Bunny, the Percy Jackson series and the Among the Hidden series. For older kids, Hope’s favorites include the classic about burning books, Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury; Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green; and Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell.
“For many of these children, receiving a new book is a very special gift,” Hope said.
When the Delray Beach resident isn’t busy with schoolwork, yearbook, her book drive and other volunteer work, she likes to run, watch movies, try new restaurants with her parents, Jeff and Heidi Sargeant, take walks with her dog, Winnie, and get lost in a good book.
During “Hope for the Future, Hope will pick up books at each location each week and bring them to the library until distribution. Drop boxes — look for the “Hope for the Future” sign — will be set up at these Delray Beach places:
• The Love Shack, 137 E. Atlantic Ave.
• The Snappy Turtle, 1100 E. Atlantic Ave., Unit A.
• American Heritage School of Boca Delray, 6200 Linton Blvd., at the lower, middle and upper campuses.
•Ace Hardware, 50 SE Sixth Ave., Delray Beach.
• Delray Beach Public Library, 100 W. Atlantic Ave.